Gold medalist Hirano: ‘I gave it my all’

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Ayumu Hirano holds up his gold medal at a press conference in Zhangjiakou, China, on Saturday.

ZHANGJIAKOU, China — Gold medal-winning snowboarder Ayumu Hirano expressed satisfaction with his performance and gratitude to those who helped him achieve it at a press conference Saturday in Zhangjiakou, China.

“I gave everything I had and was able to live up to the expectations,” said Hirano, who won the gold medal in the men’s halfpipe at the Beijing Winter Olympics on Friday. “I want to thank those around me and those who have supported me.”

The 23-year-old Hirano has evolved into a “two-way” athlete, having also competed in skateboarding at last summer’s Tokyo Olympics.

By adding to the silver medals he won in the halfpipe at both the 2014 Sochi and 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics, he became the first Japanese in history to medal at three consecutive Winter Olympics. He also gave Japan its first-ever gold medal in snowboarding.

Looking back over the four years since Pyeongchang, Hirano said: “There were many days that did not go as I wanted. It was the most difficult time I’ve ever gone through.”

Hirano also addressed the scoring system used in the halfpipe, after a sparkling second run of the final earned a surprisingly low score that left him in second place and sparked controversy.

“The appeal of snowboarding is that there are many different styles,” Hirano said. “The freedom [to do what you want] is also what makes it cool.”

He believes the scoring system for competition needs to better quantify the height of a trick, grabs of the board and other components.

“The assessment [of techniques] by the judges is also lacking. Other sports have a system to quantify all elements. I think it’s about time for snowboarding to have a more stable system.”

Asked about his future plans, Hirano said: “There are many possibilities in areas outside snowboarding and skateboarding. I want to take some time to think it over and then make my next move forward.”